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Author Topic: Ken Parker Interview in german  (Read 4369 times)

Offline Patzag

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Ken Parker Interview in german
« on: October 27, 2015, 05:14:59 PM »
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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline sybersitizen

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Patzag

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2015, 10:27:01 PM »
Thanks. I read that. It reminded me a bit of some equipment manuals from Japan in the 80's.

But a great read nonetheless! :)
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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline billy

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2015, 06:41:00 PM »
Ha, I thought the same thing- it is a lot like reading those old manuals...

Interesting to think that it was likely translated from English to German, and the Google translated back.
Billy

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2015, 03:09:00 AM »
If there's a part of the interview one of you is especially interested in or a part that's just too weird with Google translate, I can help.
I'm just too lazy (or not yet bored enough at work) to translate the full article, it's loooooong. ;)

Greetings...
Nef

Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Patzag

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2015, 07:51:16 AM »
Thanks Nef.  I read the article and most of it sense some made!  (Yoda was probably german!)

I liked the concept of the far-reaching influence Ken has had in this business!
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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2015, 04:59:38 AM »
On Japanese grammar rules Yoda's structure was actually based on.
Unexpected that was, I bet *hrrmmmm*!?

Greetings...
Yoda

Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Patzag

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2015, 02:37:36 PM »
Your true identity finally revealed is! (Still using German syntax here after that translation!
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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline billy

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2015, 02:09:34 PM »
That's a kind offer Nef. It would great if you could write them and ask if they had the English transcript.
Billy

[always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.  e. e. cummings]

Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2015, 03:11:36 AM »
I wrote them a message and will check back with the result.

Greetings...
Nef

Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2015, 02:26:38 AM »
Sorry, Gitarre & Bass replied that they only have the translation, not the original interview.

Greetings...
Nef

Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2015, 08:02:59 AM »
Original interview by Gitarre & Bass Magazine Germany: http://www.gitarrebass.de/stories/ken-parker-im-interview/

My translation is far from being perfect but it should be closer to human language than Google Translate. Ken's replies to the last two questions (and a few other spots here and there) sounded weird and unclear and maybe shortened in the German version, so I suspect I have translated something that was already translated badly (in parts) in the first place. Still it's very interesting. Enjoy!



Definite Guitar Design

Archtop first! Who would have thought that Ken Parker, the inventor of the futuristic Parker Fly design, is in fact under the spell of archtop guitars? For Ken it all started building jazz guitars in the mid 70s and today, after a remarkable and successful excursion to the electric world, he is back dedicating himself solely to his first love.





GB: Ken, is it true you started with archtop guitars back in the day?
KP: That's right! I started building archtops in 1974, my first love. I continued doing that throughout the 70s and got really good at it, even influencing the field itself, luthiers like Jimmy D’Aquisto, but nobody knows that.


GB: You influenced Jimmy D’Aquisto?
KP: Yes, and pretty extensively so! I'm trying to live a life without regrets but there's some sorrow when it comes to Jimmy. In the early 90s I visited him and he said: "Hey, why don't you stay here for a week in my workshop. We'll rip the phone out of the wall and build something crazy." But at that point I just started Parker Guitars, working 90 hour weeks and had no time whatsoever to do anything else. He died in 1996 and I'm very sad we never did that project.


GB: He clearly must have seen something very special in you.
KP: In the beginning he encouraged me, later I encouraged him. When we first met he played one of my archtops for quite some time and then asked me: "Who has shown you to work that way?" Me: "No one, I don't know anyone who is building archtop guitars except you, and I've only known you for ten minutes (laughing)" He: "Really? Nobody taught you? How did you start?" I told him that I had been looking closely at several Gibsons and D’Angelicos and thought about it. He smiled and said: "Well, that's the best first guitar I've ever seen."


GB: How old were you at that time?
KP: I was 25, working for an excellent furniture manufacturer and had a second job working on pendulum clocks. So I had acquired quite remarkable skills working with wood and metal for someone that age. And that's why I was shocked about his workshop and his equipment - it was junk, utter trash. Like someone building bird houses or flower pots. He didn't even have the basic machines for woodworking. On my next visit I brought him a big toolbox.


GB: So how could he build great guitars like that?
KP: Well, they worked. If we had one of them here and would take a closer look we could see a few flaws. We would know, at least as luthiers, that there were several aspects and problems he had to battle. The detail work just wasn't all too brilliant. It wasn't important to him because it wasn't important to John D’Angelico. For me a good traditional archtop is a Gibson built in Kalamazoo between 1922 and 1929. By the way there were many German immigrants contributing by bringing their traditional craftsmanship to the company. The great depression all but stopped production and the invention of the electric pickup sealed that fate. There were only a handful archtop builders with historic relevance anyway, next to Epiphone building several astonishing masterbuild deluxe guitars, and the Strombergs (father and son) in Boston.





GB: Are there elements in your recent archtop guitars that are reminiscent of the traditional methods?
KP: I would say you won't find a guitar so similar to old archtops like the L5 from the 1920s than mine. I'm not talking about looks, but character, balance, projection, bass response, weight and the fun-to-play factor. Tell me, how much fun do you have playing a guitar weighing 3 kg (6.6 lbs) or more? It's ridiculous. And a headstock the size of a helipad? It's a joke, just like a stupidly heavy 1959 Cadillac is a joke.

I really like it when people say: "Oh, look... he's building a traditional archtop weighing 3 kg (6.6 lbs)!" I'm sorry, the L5 from the 1920x weighs 2 kg (4.4 lbs), sometimes less than that. My guitars are 1.8 to 1.9 kg (3.9 to 4.2 lbs) and they are very resonant, lively, have full and round bassm and they are truly musical instruments. Compared to those gigantic archtops a Telecaster with a neck humbucker is the better sounding guitar - but that's just my unadorned opinion. You asked what was still the same? A lot! I really feel a true historic reference.


GB: But how was it possible for your to transform that traditional spirit?
KP: Well, that's a design question. The answer is: If you want high performance, you have to pay attention to every detail in every component, even parts everyone else is sure to make no difference at all. For instance, if you want to make something light, you can't just pick one element and make it light, you really have to check every construction detail and reduce it to the threshold of its function and serviceability. You think about where stress and tension originate and how to make the sound propagate in a pretty way.


GB: The essence of a designer's work.
KP: Right, that's the designer's job, an approach by someone who doesn't think about cloning something made in some factory.


GB: Do you start your concepts with the wood and then follow function?
KP: Well, obviously wood is the material we use. But a guitar is a complex structure, there are a lot of variables, you can change almost any thing you like, there is no one right way. I don't claim I'm doing it the right way. I'm a scientist and I only try to improve instrument by instrument. People often ask about my range of models. No, I only have one model, the very next guitar (laughing). I name them but they are no models. I wouldn't want to build something I've already done years ago. That just doesn't make any sense.


GB: is your famous Fly design influencing your archtops?
KP: Yes, of course, it's still the same thing. All guitars are guitars! The distinction between electric and acoustic guitars as if they were totally separate things feels very artificial to me. Sure, there are differences, but there's also a difference between a tenor guitar and a parlor guitar. I think an experienced player sees an electric guitar as a quiet acoustic guitar in need of amplification. I object the idea that you get away building a bad electric guitar and make it great with decent pickups. That just won't happen. Show a good Tele-player a 54 Tele. He willll grab the neck, pick it up and if it weighs more than 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) he will put it down and leave for lunch. He doesn't need to hear it and still knows that it won't click with him, that it won't work as well as the best versions.





GB: But it's not that easy to make guitar players happy, isn't it?
KP: Well, electric guitars have to have great responsiveness to satisfy an experienced player. Okay, I never wanted to build electric guitars, I wanted to build archtops. L5s or D’Angelicos were available for 2000 dollars or less in the late 70s. How would I get to the 5000 dollars that could pay my bills that way? Even though I got a lot of encouragement by awesome players like Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, or Jim Hall they simply didn't need what I was making. Then I said to myself one day: "Okay, luthiers build guitars for living musicians, not those old geezers." And so I started building electric guitars. I already worked on thousands of 50s and 60s electrics in service and knew what I liked and disliked about them. Service and repair, that's where you'll learn the most.


GB: How was it during the era of vintage instruments?
KP: When I was in New York between 1979 and 1983 people really started getting into the old stuff. Rare models that were never played pretty much sold themselves. People coming in with stuff like a 54 or 57 Strat in its original case and Fender strings from factory.


GB: The (in)famous case queens.
KP: Exactly. You plugged them in and immediately knew why no one ever played them. The simply weren't good guitars. However, at a certain point in time I started defining goals. I asked myself how my own design could look. What I could do so frets won't wear. How could I stabilize the neck to better compensate string tension, and so on. I had a lot of old Gibsons and Fenders on my workbench that had left the factory with straight necks.

But I had to trim and adjust the fingerboards - removing material - before refretting to get everything working again. I thought about the layout of the line, about balance and headstock design and asked myself again: "Does it really need 4 kg (8.8 lbs) of stuff to build a good guitar? Les Paul? That's ridiculous!" So I designed a guitar with a target weight of 2 to 2.5 kg (4.4 to 5.5 lbs).





GB: But you didn't lose sight of the aesthetic appeal.
KP: That's right. I actually designed my well known 6-in-line headstock concept for an acoustic seven string archtop in 1983. The Fly body shape design followed that headstock. People often say: "Oh, you adoped the Fly headstock for your archtop." Nope, it was actually the other way round.


GB: Is it any kind of problem for you to sell your guitars to conventional players?
KP: They don't buy my guitars. Do you know why? There are companies who are ready to give them guitars. I can't compete with that and talking about playing musicians: Instruments are used and there will be wear and boutique guitars cost a fortune.


GB: This one is your personal instrument, do you own several?
KP: Only that one right now. I just offered by guitar to Bill Frisell for recording and we're trying to find the right time frame for that. My goal for 2015 is to build two more for myself, guitars made of different materials and different tonal flavours, a sound library of sorts for my customers to choose from in my shop to find the perfect instrument.


GB: Ken, thank you very much, for your up-front information and opinion. It's safe to say: You have made your mark in the history of building guitars.
KP: Thanks a lot... first I'll have to finish my Jimmy D’Aquisto story though. When I left his shop back then he said: "You're crazy... (long pause) if youquit building guitars (laughing)." That left me on a high for months. He said I was a luthier and that kept me going. I showed him all my guitars, he told me about which ones he liked more and why, had many suggestions. A famous guitar dealer from New York criticized me saying: "Your guitars look like hippie-toys." Me: "Okay, what would you suggest?" Him: "Well, they should look more like D’Angelicos."





KP: Me: "Okay, show me your D’Angelicos." He had a few of them, I looked at one of them, very shallow on the bass side and a huge bump on the treble side, the curvature was mostly asymmetrical. I absorbed that into my next guitar, however with a special fan shaped bracing and an extra tone bar. I changed the cutaway, added wooden binding, and modified many other details. I brought that guitar to Jimmy D’Aquisto and it took me almost twenty years to understand what happened that day. So I went to his place after working on that guitar for almost a year, immensely proud with the result. And him? he was bugged out and irritated! Today I know he really liked it. But he told me utter crap, said that the guitar was no use, that one would have to invent a use for it first.


GB: maybe you frightened him?
KP: I still have that guitar, you would laugh and smile if you gave it a try. It's a bombshell, it sounds great, it's wonderfully balanced, has tons of sustain, an incredible instrument. Many have tried and confirmed it having a lot of fun. And he was nagging and grumbling: "You're going in the wrong direction, everything has changed, better stay with the tried and tested." I told him to try something new every now and then but he said: "No, no... I'd rather do it like John D’Angelico." But if you take a look at his later work now you can see many ideas that already were a part of my 1977 guitar, there's evidence of that. But it took him more than ten years to modernize his construction methods.



Greetings...
Nef
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 12:40:31 PM by Nefarius »

Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Patzag

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2015, 12:49:04 PM »
Thanks so much for that!
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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline richh

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2015, 01:35:06 PM »
Yes, thanks for your translation, very interested to see it.

Re: Ken Parker Interview in german

Offline Big Swifty

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Re: Ken Parker Interview in german
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2015, 10:52:36 PM »
Hey great work Nef, thanks!

Now, can you translate my bank account into something that can afford one of his new arch tops?

I think i really really need one.

Really.

Ta.

Big Needy...errr...Swifty.
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